Last mile delivery
Last mile delivery is the process of transporting goods from a transportation hub or distribution center to the customer's doorstep. It is the final step in the supply chain process, and involves the distribution, tracking, and delivery of products to their ultimate destination. Last mile delivery is typically managed by a logistics provider or a third-party intermediary, and requires careful planning and execution in order to ensure timely, cost-effective, and efficient delivery of products. It is essential to the success of any business that relies on direct-to-consumer shipping and is a key factor in customer satisfaction.
Example of last mile delivery
- Online Retailers: Many online retailers offer last mile delivery services to their customers. When an order is placed, the package is picked up at the store or distribution center, and then shipped directly to the customer's doorstep. The product is tracked and delivered in a timely manner, and the customer satisfaction is high.
- Grocery Stores: Grocery stores often use last mile delivery services to bring their products to customers. The store will pick up the groceries from the warehouse and deliver them to the customer's doorstep. Customers can track their orders in real-time, and can be sure that their groceries will be delivered fresh and on time.
- Restaurants: Restaurants often use last mile delivery services to deliver their food to customers. The food is picked up from the restaurant kitchen and delivered to the customer's doorstep. The restaurant will often provide a tracking link so that customers can follow the delivery in real-time.
- Pharmaceuticals: Pharmacies often use last mile delivery services to deliver medications to patients. The pharmacy will pick up the medications from the warehouse and deliver them directly to the patient's home. The medications are tracked and delivered in a timely manner, and the patient's satisfaction is high.
When to use last mile delivery
Last mile delivery is an important part of the supply chain process and can be used in a variety of different scenarios. It is typically used when a customer needs to receive goods in a timely manner and when a business needs to ensure that products are delivered safely and securely. Last mile delivery can be used for:
- Online orders for goods and services - Last mile delivery is a popular option for businesses that offer goods and services online, as it eliminates the need for customers to pick up their orders from a store.
- Grocery delivery - Last mile delivery is increasingly being used in the grocery industry, allowing customers to have their groceries delivered directly to their doorsteps.
- Medical supplies - Last mile delivery is often used in the medical field, providing hospitals and clinics with the supplies they need quickly and efficiently.
- Pharmaceuticals - Last mile delivery is also used in the pharmaceutical industry, ensuring that medications and other medical supplies reach their destination quickly and safely.
- Small package delivery - Last mile delivery is also used in the shipping industry, allowing customers to receive their packages in a timely manner.
Types of last mile delivery
Last mile delivery encompasses a variety of different delivery methods and strategies, all of which involve the transportation of goods from a distribution center or hub to the customer's doorstep. Common types of last mile delivery include:
- Standard Delivery: Standard delivery typically involves the use of traditional ground shipping carriers like UPS or FedEx, and involves the transportation of goods from a distribution center to the customer's doorstep.
- Same-Day Delivery: Same-day delivery involves the use of a courier service or third-party intermediary to deliver goods to a customer within the same day.
- White Glove Delivery: In white glove delivery, an experienced logistics provider will deliver goods to a customer's doorstep and provide additional services such as assembly and installation.
- In-Store Pickup: In-store pickup involves the customer picking up their order at a local store or retail location. This type of delivery is becoming increasingly popular as customers look for convenient and cost-effective ways to get their products.
- Drone Delivery: Drone delivery involves the use of unmanned aerial vehicles to deliver goods to a customer's doorstep. This type of delivery is still in its infancy but has the potential to revolutionize last mile delivery in the future.
Steps of last mile delivery
Last mile delivery is an essential process in the supply chain, and involves the distribution, tracking, and delivery of goods from a transportation hub or distribution center to the customer's doorstep. The steps in last mile delivery include:
- Receiving orders: The first step in the last mile delivery process is receiving orders from customers. This involves the use of technology such as order management systems or tracking numbers to ensure the accuracy and timeliness of the order.
- Pre-trip planning: Pre-trip planning involves the selection of the most cost-effective and efficient route for the delivery, as well as the selection of carriers and other resources needed for the delivery.
- Loading: Loading involves preparing the goods for shipment and loading them into the appropriate vehicles. This may involve the use of loading ramps, pallet jacks, and other specialized equipment.
- Delivery: Delivery is the actual process of transporting the goods to their destination. This may involve the use of various types of vehicles, such as trucks, vans, and other specialized vehicles.
- Unloading and customer service: Unloading and customer service involves the unloading of goods from the vehicle, and the handing over of the goods to the customer. This may involve the use of specialized equipment, as well as the provision of customer service.
- Returns and refunds: Returns and refunds involve the process of dealing with customer complaints and requests for refunds. This may involve the use of specialized software and processes to track and process returns and refunds.
Limitations of last mile delivery
Last mile delivery is a crucial step in the supply chain process, but it can be challenging to execute successfully. There are a number of potential limitations to consider, including:
- Limited Transportation Options: Last mile delivery often requires special equipment and vehicles, which can be costly and difficult to source. Additionally, many areas are not easily accessible to larger delivery vehicles, making it difficult to complete deliveries efficiently.
- High Costs: Last mile delivery is often more expensive than other delivery methods due to the increased time and resources required to complete the job.
- Poor Visibility: Tracking the progress of a delivery can be difficult, as there may be limited visibility into the exact location of a package during the journey.
- Customer Expectations: Customers have become accustomed to fast delivery times, and any delays can lead to frustration and dissatisfaction.
- Delivery Density: Delivery density is a key factor in determining the cost-effectiveness of last mile delivery, and can be difficult to manage in certain areas.
Last mile delivery is an essential part of the overall supply chain process, and there are a variety of other approaches which can be used to optimize the process. These include:
- Automation: Automation is a key factor in streamlining the last mile delivery process, as it can increase efficiency and reduce costs. Automation can include automated order routing, automated delivery route optimization, and automated tracking and reporting.
- Contracting with Delivery Service Providers: Companies can contract with delivery service providers to help streamline the last mile delivery process. Providers can offer specialized services such as same-day delivery, delivery route optimization, and order tracking.
- Use of Logistics Technology: Companies can use logistics technology to track orders and manage delivery routes. This can include GPS tracking, route optimization, and real-time tracking of shipments.
- Use of Crowdsourcing: Companies can use crowdsourcing to outsource delivery tasks to a network of independent contractors or third-party delivery services. This can reduce costs and provide more flexibility in terms of delivery times and routes.
|Last mile delivery — recommended articles
|Last mile — Role of transportation — Outbound logistics — Regional distribution centre — Logistics service providers — Logistic service provider — Distribution network — Freight forwarding company — Vertically integrated supply chain
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- Boysen, N., Fedtke, S., & Schwerdfeger, S. (2021). Last-mile delivery concepts: a survey from an operational research perspective. Or Spectrum, 43, 1-58.
- Wang, X., Zhan, L., Ruan, J., & Zhang, J. (2014). How to choose "last mile" delivery modes for e-fulfillment. Mathematical Problems in Engineering, 2014.